2010. ANNUAL REPORT on the status of human rights of sexual and gender minorities in Croatia
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Positive advances in the status of the human rights of sexual and gender minorities in Croatia in 2010 are visible, as in previous years, in the increase in reports of incidents of violence nd discrimination made to organisations for the protection of sexual and gender minorities. In 2010 an increased number of people were prepared to speak out publicly about their experiences discrimination or violence on the basis of their sexual orientation. Namely, after the case of Neven Rauk in 2009, last year the media reported on the cases of the attacks on Damir Gerovac nd Goran Hadžić and the case of discrimination at work in which Dario Krešić was the injured party.
Nevertheless, it is important to emphasise that the great majority of people who experience discrimination and violence never report such incidents because of their lack of confidence in the Croatian legal system, and fear of disclosure of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
LGBT persons are subjected to discrimination and violence in their everyday lives because of their gender identity and/or gender expression.
The most negative event in 2010 happened on International Human Rights Day itself, 10 December 2010, and symbolically speaks of the state of the human rights of sexual and gender 2010 Annual Report on the Status of Human Rights of Sexual and Gender Minorities minorities in the Republic of Croatia and the readiness of state institutions to protect the human ights of these marginalised groups.
After a shameful debate in the Croatian Parliament on the previous day, legal proposals which would have introduced mechanisms for the protection of basic human rights of transgender persons were rejected on International Human Rights Day.
Namely, we drew up a draft Bill on Amendments to the State Registries Act and draft Bill on Amendments to the Personal Names Act whose aim was the protection of the right to respect of the private lives of transgender persons, and presented them to state institutions and political parties at the beginning of the year, after which the SDP put them into parliamentary procedure.
The proposals contained protection mechanisms to ensure that a request for a change of name would not be published on the notice board of the responsible municipality, and that changes of gender and name are not evident on a person’s birth certificate. It would also have enabled persons who have not undergone a complete sex reassignment procedure to change the data on their documents, which is especially important for the protection of the human rights of minors who are undergoing sex reassignment procedures but who are unable to complete the procedure because of their age.
An example of the breach of human rights which is the result of precisely the existing legal regulations is the case of a minor whose mother approached us over a year ago. Namely, her child had been badly treated in school by both pupils and teachers because of its gender identity and the Ombudswoman for Children had even reacted. After this, the child should have registered in a new school, but it was not possible to change the data on gender in the child’s personal documents
according to existing legal regulations (the name was changed to neutral with another explanation). Therefore data about the child’s change of gender will be once more available to the staff of the new school. Given that personal documents are presented when registering for extracurricular activities and on numerous other occasions, there exist another large number of people without legal interest to whom private data about the child will be available.
Despite everything described, the above draft bills were placed at the end of the daily agenda in the Croatian Parliament and were refused urgent procedure, even though it was a case of legal proposals whose aim was to prevent the breach of the human rights of an extremely vulnerable social group.
And finally, in a shameful debate in the Croatian Parliament on 9 December 2010 (which only occurred by chance because all the items on the agenda were put out of order at the last minute), only four members of Parliament applied to speak. On the day before International Human Rights Day, almost nobody in the Croatian Parliament was interested in the debate about human rights. We would also like to mention that it was evident during the debate on the Anti- Discrimination Act that the majority of members of Parliament do not even know what gender identity is.
The Anti-Discrimination Act which bans discrimination on the basis of gender identity thus still exists only on paper, because other laws are not harmonised with it due to a lack of political will. By this behaviour, discrimination of transgender persons is openly supported by state institutions which refused to protect the human rights of transgender persons on precisely International Human Rights Day.
A year ago Lesbian Group Kontra also submitted a request to the Constitutional Court to assess the constitutionality of the above laws but we have not yet received any answer. Unfortunately, the only course available to citizens who are transgender persons in the Republic of Croatia is to fight for their human rights at the European Court of Human Rights which has already brought a number of positive judgements in similar cases.
We would also like to highlight as a great setback to the protection of human rights the failure for the second consecutive year by the responsible institutions to ban the fascist protest entitled “anti-gay protest” organised by the Croatian Pure Party of Rights. The announcements of the protest contained an incitement to violence and instructions for preparing weapons (Molotov cocktails), and participants at the protests shouted “Kill the faggots” and on both occasions physically attacked participants of Zagreb Pride. There was no reaction by the responsible institutions, the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs despite requests from non-government organisations for the second consecutive year and despite the reactions and warnings of the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality and the People’s Ombudsman.